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Bowsette's Short Stories and Scribblings

Bowsette Plus-Ultra

The Devil's Advocate
ZD Champion
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Location
Iowa
Gender
Lizard
I've been writing for a while, but the military sucked the energy out of me and killed my drive to write for many months. During the previous semester of college, I enrolled in a fiction writing class. While I didn't learn much (because of my huge ego), I did put together some short stories and prompt responses that I feel a little proud of. I'll post them here in case anyone is interested.

Feedback is appreciated.

:wynaut:

This is an extended prompt I wrote during a class when we were asked to put together a scene of any sort. It doesn't have a title, but I've taken to calling it Flight Alpha 38.

Engineering officer Tess Megarith took a deep breath—the first she’d taken in eighty-seven years, four days, and six hours. Her first thoughts were fuzzy; a kind of euphoric massage in the back of her mind. She didn’t notice the microneedles punching her in the shoulders, injecting the chemicals that would bring her heart rate into a stable pattern without sending her into cardiac arrest. She was just conscious enough that she knew she was awake, but not enough to do anything rash.

Her pod—some part of her knew it was a pod—shifted into an upright position, but slowly so as not to jostle her or generate any unnecessary stress.

Please remain still.

The voice was soft and feminine. No doubt engineered to trigger just the right emotional synapses to ensure a relaxed response.

It worked. Tess remained still.

You have been asleep for eighty-seven years, four days, and six hours. Let me help you.

Just then, the cocktail of chemicals being fed directly into Tess’s bloodstream reached her heart. Her eyes shot open, and she became dimly aware of her surroundings. Her left arm reached out for something to grab, finding the cold metal cusp of her pod. The residual frost left by the cryofreezing process retreated from her fingers. Her vision remained fuzzy from years spent in a near-death state, her body sluggish and slow to respond.

We are fifteen years, seventeen days, and three hours from our estimated interception with Erebus III. You are scheduled to perform routine maintenance on critical ship systems. Do you understand?

“Yes,” Tess said.

Okay. Let me help you.

The last layer of cryogenic permafrost slipped away, leaving Tess marginally warmer. She couldn’t shake the feeling that the computerized female voice designed for maximum comfort and efficiency was somehow watching her. In the formfitting grey bodysuit she’d worn into cryostasis, she felt naked. Warm and regulated, but nude. Even light-years away from Earth and its boundless problems, she still felt the eyes of strangers.

And then her pod opened.

The air around her hissed as the rubberized seal broke. Her view of the world, previously limited to a fogged up porthole built from glass just thick enough to protect the occupant in the event of power loss and depressurization, expanded. With the auto-mechanical groan of a sleeping machine, the top of her pod lifted and retreated overhead, and the innards of the Sagittarius opened up before her. It was not the ship she remembered, the one filled with scientists in grey lab-coats mumbling vague reassurances about the safety of cryogenic freezing, that they’d tested it numerous times and that the failure rate was minimal. So minimal, in fact, that they didn’t feel like disclosing it.

In the old world, there were banners and well-wishers. Family members crowding around to reassure family members that they wouldn’t be forgotten, that they would continue on into a glorious future far beyond the stars. In this quiet new one. In this new world, there was a cold room of steel iron composite. Tess lurched from her pod with the ungainly steps of a toddler stumbling into a walk by accident. She took three steps, tripped, and threw up.

These symptoms should pass shortly. Please let me know if you feel any further discomfort beyond twenty-four hours.

Tess wiped the vomit from her mouth.

“Noted,” she said between coughs. Then she looked up and felt like throwing up all over again.

Hundreds of other pods; hundreds of crewmembers all part of the same one-way journey. She couldn’t see their faces, but she could feel them. She’d trained with most of them.

“I’m the only one awake?” she said.

Yes. We are still fifteen years, seventeen days, and three hours from our estimated interception with Erebus III. In order to preserve supplies and accommodate for eventual settlement strategies, crewmembers are to be removed from cryostasis only to conduct essential duties.

She looked at her vomit. “Is—can I clean this up?”

It felt a stupid question.

This area will be sanitized. Do not worry, Lieutenant Megarith. I am here to accommodate all your physical and nutritional needs.

Finally, Tess stood. She stood up in a room filled with hundreds who she could not touch or speak. In the background, the constant low-pitched hum that indicated that everything was running normally. It meant that life support was firing away in the deep in the throes of the ship. It meant the sub-light fusion engine over which she’d been minimally briefed was continuing along its pre-programmed route with a minimum of fuss.

Tess balled her hands into fists and tried not to think about it. She shoved those anxious thoughts into the back of her mind where they could be decompressed and panicked over later.

Soft green lights flashed slowly across the floor, forming a narrow line that led through a bulkhead and further into the sleeping ship.

Please follow the illuminated path to the dining area.

She did. Despite reassurances from Mars’ top scientists that the cryostasis process was totally safe and offered no “significant” side effects, Tess’s legs felt like jelly. She hobbled across the cold steel of the crew’s near-permanent sleeping quarters, trying her best not to look around and risk seeing someone she recognized. Despite the persistent and low hum of reactors and engines and dampeners milling about quietly in the distance, there was a distinct silence to the world. She heard each patter of her bare on the floor.

Gentle orange arrows flashed in slow, obvious patterns beneath her, no doubt designed to reduce strain on the eyes following prolonged stasis. Even still, Tess’s eyes watered from the effort. Twenty-four hours of these symptoms sounded nightmarish. The bulkhead—thick and monstrous, designed to act as an airlock in the event of catastrophic decompression of this or other sections of the ship—hissed as rubber seals peeled apart to allow access. Somehow, it was comforting and disquieting for the passageway to lead to something as normal as a hallway.

And a window.

Tess’s eyes widened, and for just a moment her legs worked just as well as they needed to. She straightened up, all the pain and soreness and side-effects suddenly a million miles away. They were the problems of someone with their feet planted squarely in soil, with an atmosphere that existed independents of oxygenators and CO2 scrubbers.

Behind more than a meter of a transparent glass-titanium alloy was space.

Stars.

The void so close that Tess could reach out and touch it—reach out and lay her hand against the glass. Despite all the training and the simulations, it was another thing to feel it. Despite the millions of pinpricks of light reaching out to her, it was another thing to know that each of those lights were probably dead and gone.

Tess stood there more than a minute before the ship’s computer said anything.

Are you alright, Lieutenant Megarith?

“I’m…” was all she managed at first. Some part of her—a part of her not at all small—wanted to curl up and look away. Although the glass was warm to the touch, she felt cold. “I’ll be okay,” she said. She had to be.
 
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Bowsette Plus-Ultra

The Devil's Advocate
ZD Champion
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Location
Iowa
Gender
Lizard
This is a response to a simple POV exercise. We were asked to write the same scene from first, second, and third person perspectives. I've always been fascinated with trying to bring superheroes to the written word, so I brought in one of my costumed heroes.

Astro Girl, the strongest woman on Earth, darling of liberal news outlets, and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, hovered three hundred feet above El Paso, Texas, wondering just how many laws she was about to break. The trial, if they could somehow detain her, would no doubt be a largely political affair fought on the time-tested battlegrounds of Twitter and Facebook, waged by politicians, celebrities, and media influencers, all while the real trial puttered about in some musty courtroom filled with power inhibitors smelling distinctly of copper.

But she was decided. The cages—the ones that others had generously coined holding centers—occupied a small area near the Mexican/American border. From above, they looked like something out of the second World War, the sort of place that a backwards government sent Japanese-Americans under the pretense of safety and winning a war, all while surrounded by guards of a distinctly Caucasian flavor.

The place smelled wrong. It felt wrong. Had she not seen it with her own eyes, Astro Girl would have assumed the razor wire some exaggeration. She wouldn’t have believed that ten families would be made to sleep in rooms designed for two. Even from so many feet in the air, she could smell the urine and the unwashed, and she felt reviled in such a way that even supervillains might raise their noses at.

So, she went into a nosedive.

For all of three seconds, Astro Girl was a blaze of blue and gold, her cape whipping in behind her as air rushed to fill the void she’d occupied until only a second ago. In the moment before touchdown, she saw men armed with rifles and sunglasses point and shout. Whatever they were saying, whatever their excuses were, they were complicit.

Astro Girl slammed into the ground with a kra-kaoom, smashing into an already decaying layer of concrete. Dust rose up to meet her, briefly obscuring her form from prison—yes, for it was a prison—security. Rifles rose to meet her.

One guard, perhaps acting out of some conditioned reflex, tried to punch her. For the sake of his hand, Astro Girl rolled her neck with the punch. She didn’t need to cause more damage than necessary—at least, not yet.

“Stop!”

“Parada! Parada!”
 

Bowsette Plus-Ultra

The Devil's Advocate
ZD Champion
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Location
Iowa
Gender
Lizard
The following is a little bit of light science fiction I wrote to flex my superhero itch. There are some areas i would improve, but I think it turned out pretty well. While it doesn't have a real title, I've been referring to it as Test Pilot.

Moira Erikson fired a sizzling bolt of red plasma, blasting a football-sized hole into the plaster ceiling of Olyo City’s most populous bank. Her heart was beating out of her chest and her miniaturized plasma canon was just a little too hot on her wrist, venting a single depleted colion cannister after completing its cooling cycle. It was an acceptable test run. She wasn’t dead and the public was intimidated.

“Everyone on the ground!” she said in the loudest voice she could manage without shouting. Shouting was for cowards in plate-carriers and hockey masks. It indicated weakness. Moira adjusted her aim, pointing her arm in a semi-circle around the bank lobby. Her mechanized armor whirred and hissed, imperfections yet to be worked out of the final product. It augmented her frame, adding four inches to her height and several thousand pounds to her bench-press. Of the three different levels of protection she sported on any given day, it was the one that most indicated that others shouldn’t **** with her.

AmeriCorp Bank was not one of Olyo City’s wealthiest banks, but that didn’t matter.

It was the sort of seven-to-seven bank that catered to graveyard shift employees, tired mothers, and costumed vigilantes. It was covered in logos and marketing, and buried beneath each of those were dozens of cameras. From the front desk to the vault, it was impossible to do anything without being recorded in fuzzy low-resolution video from at least five different angles. It was the sort of bank with voice encoded silent alarms that didn’t need a teller to creep beneath their desk like the subject of a mediocre crime drama.

It was public and it was crowded.

Fourteen different people saw her walk in the front door. Two of them were dressed like rent-a-cops, complete with security badges indicating such. Both went for their sidearms. One of them shouted, “Freeze! Stop right there!”

Moira froze.

She ticked her left thumb. Her plasma canon quickly slotted an electrified slug into its secondary barrel. It was nonlethal in most cases, but felt like taking a baseball to the sternum and a million volts to the nervous system.

“Look,” Moira said. “Everyone here is insured by the bank and won’t lose a thing. If you just lay down and shut up, I can finish this quickly.”

They repeated their ultimatum.

“Fine. I warned you.”

She shot the first one in the stomach; electrified plasma with enough juice to put down an elephant. It would hurt—a lot—but it was nonlethal 97.3% of the time. His face contorted in pain and his handgun fell to the floor with impactful thud. Both his arms and legs locked out, spasming as he collapsed unconscious to the floor.

The second almost-police officer had the good reflexes to pull his trigger twice.

The most external of Moira’s defense systems flared up, its reaction keyed to nanoseconds. A visible blue aura flickered into existence around her exoskeleton, absorbing the kinetic energy of both bullets. Despite numerous field tests, Moira’s heart still skipped a beat. She hoped no one saw her gasp as both rounds rattled to the ground.

She chuckled under her breath—a chuckle that she hoped didn’t sound as unsure as she worried it did, and said, “Good try.”

A twitch of her index finger. High impact rounds.

Rent-a-cop didn’t react in time. Moira watched his eyes go wide in the microcosm of a moment between the concussive plasma met his sternum, searing the outermost fibers of his uniform and sending him flying with excessive force towards the front desk. His spine met the hard wood material with a crack, before the remaining inertia sent him careening into a wall.

He wasn’t dead.

Well, he probably wasn’t dead.

Moira’s domino mask itched. Sweat pooled around the edges where she’s used costume glue to adhere it to her face. Why couldn’t she have worn something more intimidating, something high class? She resisted the urge to run her finger along the outside to scratch it as best she could. She had to look good for the cameras.

She looked to the teller closest to her.

The teller in question, a young blonde woman who couldn’t have been more than twenty, probably holding down the job while she worked her way through something more important, whimpered. To her credit, her reaction was immediate. The moment a supervillain made eye contact, she threw her hands up in the universal gesture for please-don’t-shoot-I-won’t-tell-anyone-I-swear-oh-god-oh-god. She closed her eyes, shook her head, and started whispering, “I don’t even care about this place I just work here please don’t kill me.” The last two-thirds or so of her mumbling sort of blurred together, and she was crying.

Moira approached. Her exoskeleton whirred and hissed with each step, and suddenly it didn’t feel like a technical flaw to be ironed out, but intimidation; a notice that everyone else should be on notice.

“What’s your name?” Moira said.

The teller looked surprised not to be shot. “I’m… Catherine.”

“Cath—”

“But with a ‘K’!”

Moira blinked.

“I just… please don’t kill me. They don’t even pay me that much. I just work here. I just—”

Moira ignored the plea and gestured vaguely to the almost-officer who had suffered a concussive blow to both his dignity and his spine. “Fine, Catherine with a ‘K’. Is that man still breathing?”

Catherine with a ‘K’ didn’t seem quite sure how to respond. Her mouth opened and closed several times in slow succession and her surrendering hands seemed on the verge of dropping out of sheer panic. “I don’t... I don’t know.”

“I’m asking you to check on him.”

Katherine seemed trapped between her fear of death and her fear of inaction, ultimately deciding inaction was something she couldn’t afford and that death was still terrifying. She stepped backwards without lowering her hands, stumbling over her too-high heels in the process. Her intention was fine, but she was too slow. She wasn’t taking the situation seriously.

Moira raised her gauntlet. Her index finger twitched, and a precision round slotted into place with a barely audible click.

It wasn’t personal, what happened next. She didn’t have anything against the sheep going about their days, ignorant of the things that could change their lives. When Moira whirled around, the tails of her coat trailing behind her in suitably dramatic fashion, she killed a man.

He was on his knees, trying to reach for the cellphone protruding from his coat pocket when a bolt of plasma tore through his chest, leaving a burning hole where his ribcage should be. Burned lashes of flash crumbled away from the wound. The plasma was superheated and self-cauterizing; a clean way to deal with such an unclean task. He tried to breathe but couldn’t. He grabbed at his throat, then his chest, his hand recoiling from the wound out of some involuntary reflex. There was a hole in him.

A piece of him was missing.

And then he collapsed,

The girl behind the counter screamed. The other hostages didn’t seem to believe it at first. For a few moments, there was a poignant silence. Moira could hear her heart beating. She could feel her eyes dilate as dopamine coursed through her system. The traffic outside seemed like a distant memory, muffled so deeply in the background that she could hear the gentle hum of her suit’s reactor.

“One more time,” Moira said, turning back to the teller. “Tell me if he’s breathing.”

“You’re—you—”

Moira leaned forward. Her exoskeleton whirred with each degree. “I’m what?” she said.

Katherine recoiled, preemptively raising her arms to protect her head. Her face was pale, her eyes wide. She was shivering in the middle of summer.

The girl was going into shock.

In a softer voice, Moira said, “Check on him or I’ll kill you.”

Suddenly motivated, Katherine fell into a kneeling position next to the unconscious almost-officer and lowered a tentative hand to his mouth. The rise and fall of his chest were too faint to make out from beneath the layers of his uniform, but katherine started nodding and said, “Y-Yeah. He’s breathing, I think.”

“Good.” Moira brought her leg back and kicked straight through what must have been a thousand-dollar desk filled with the sort of currency, computers, and calculation software that swindled the people out of their money a penny at a time. It shattered, sharp wooden fragments flying in a dozen different directions, while the force of the blow sent the larger pieces careening backwards. If not for all the people so politely laying on the ground with their hands on their heads, someone else might have been hurt.

Moira nodded at the teller. “His health insurance should cover it.”

Police sirens wailed near the entrance, echoing in the streets till they felt like a physical force, but they didn’t matter. She knew where the vault was. It wasn’t a particularly large bank. Just a popular one. A popular bank in the middle of a crowded city during a workday. No doors forged from depleted uranium, or complex mechanisms housing vast riches. Nothing but a glass door and a digital password. Beyond, the meager valuables of a middle-class society languishing in safety deposit boxes.

The teller—Catherine with a ‘K’—she knew what came next. Maybe she’d stayed home one too many times and watched one to many bad heist movies. Maybe she could feel the thrill in the air or see the grin on Moira’s face as she lifted her gauntlet one last time and pointed it directly at the door. She toggled her ammunition one last time, one last burst of plasma. She didn’t need to, but she needed to.

“Bang,” she said.

The cannister cycled.

The meager glass didn’t survive; nor did the wall behind it or the wall behind that. Moira’s reactive barrier flickered back into existence to deflect any fast-moving debris. She watched bits of rubble bounce harmlessly off her chest, their inertia absorbed and redirected to the cold fusion reactor powering her equipment. The room smelled of ash and chemical burns, and when the smoke cleared, AmeriCorp was down one vault. A hole was left in its wake, sizzling and crumbling hole into the back alley where the other residents of the neighborhood left their trash. And then she grinned.

The colion cylinder ejected itself from her gauntlet with a ch-ink, reloading a second round in anticipation of another bout. Moira grinned. She was high on life and on fumes. It was just what she needed—a booster shot of adrenaline when lab work just wasn’t enough.

But she needed one more thing.

One last high.

She knew all the cameras were on. She knew that not one person in the lobby was capable of staying away from their phones if she had her back turned, and she knew that at least one of them was smart enough to dial nine-one-one and whisper all the details to the emergency operator on the other end. And she knew that at least one person with a cape was listening. They were always listening. Always wired to some sort of police scanner or private security system like an ambulance hoping for their chance at glory.

She waited.

And then a cape dropped out of the sky. Clad in some tacky blue and gold spandex that curved around her breasts just enough to sell pictures, the sort that superheroes in the 1970s wouldn’t have touched. The cape landed with all the dramatic sense of a trained thespian. The perfect three-point landing: cape fluttering in the wind, one knee on the ground, one knee bent, and a fist driven hard into the cement.

And one smoldering look upward at the source of her discomfort.

Moira grinned.

One more high.
 

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